the state of the world

brief introduction to global issues

peace, war & conflict

There have been over 250 major wars in the world since World War II, in which 23 million people have been killed., tens of millions made homeless, and countless millions injured and bereaved. Over 37 (or 42) million people have by killed by wars in the 20th century. Three times more people have been killed in wars in the last 90 years than in all the previous 500.

There are over 35 major conflicts going on in the world today. In armed conflicts since 1945, 90 per cent of casualties have been civilians. 3 out of 4 fatalities of war are women and children.

In the wars of the last decade, more children were killed than soldiers. In the last decade, child victims of war include an estimated 2 million killed, 4 to 5 million disabled, 12 million left homeless, and more than 1 million orphaned.

There are 300,000 child soldiers in the world.

Landmines maim or kill approximately 26,000 civilians every year, including 8,000 to 10,000 children. At least 75% of landmine victims are civilians. It is estimated that there are between 60 and 70 million landmines in the ground in at least 70 countries.

More than 500 million small arms and light weapons are in circulation around the world. In major conflicts since 1990, they have caused 4 million deaths - about 90 per cent of them civilians, and 80 per cent women and children.

There are approximately 30,000 nuclear warheads in the world today.. Som 5,000 nuclear weapons are on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched on a few minutes notice.

Current global military spending is approximately $800 billion per year; more than the total annual income of the poorest 45% of the global population.

Genocide and other mass murders killed more people in the 20th century than all wars combined. Between 54 and 80 million people have been killed in genocides in the the last century. Between 170 and 360 million people have been killed, in total, by governments (democide) in the 20th century, apart from war.

human rights & social justice

33% of the world's people live under authoritarian, non-democratic regimes. 35% of the world's people live in countries in which basic political rights and civil liberties are denied (such as freedom of speech, religion, press, fair trials, democratic political processes, etc).

1 billion people - 1/3rd of the world's labor force, is unemployed or underemployed. An estimated 27 million people are enslaved around the world, including an estimated 20 million people held in bonded labour (forced to work in order to pay off a debt, also known as 'debt bondage').. At least 700,000 people annually, and up to 2 million, mostly women and children, are victims of human trafficking worldwide (a modern form of slavery -- bought, sold, transported and held against their will in slave-like conditions)..

About 246 million, or 1 out of 6, children ages 5 to 17 worldwide are involved in child labor. Nearly three-fourths of these, about 180 million children, including 110 million under age 15, are exposed to the worst forms of, or hazardous, child labor. Some estimated 8.4 million children are trapped in the most abhorrent forms of child labour - slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography and other such activities.

Women account for 70 percent of the world's people who live in absolute poverty. Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, produce half of the world's food, and yet earn only 10% of the world's income and own less than 1% of the world's property. Worldwide, a quarter of all women are raped during their lifetime. Depending on the country, 25 to 75 percent of women are regularly beaten at home. Between 10% and 50% of women report they have been physically abused by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Over 120 million women have undergone female genital mutilation. Women hold only 12% of parliamentary seats worldwide. Women account for 2/3rd's of the world's illiterate adults, and girls account for 2/3rd's of the world's children without access to education.

In 1998, extrajudicial executions were carried out in 47 countries, 'disappearances' occurred in 37 countries, torture occurred in 125 countries, prisoners of conscience were held in 78 countries, unfair trials for political prisoners occurred in 35 countries, detentions without charge or trial occurred in 66 countries, executions were carried out in 36 countries, and human rights abuses were committed by armed opposition groups in 37 countries.

There are over 45 million refugees and internally dispaced people in the world.

poverty & development

3 billion of the world's people (one-half) live in 'poverty' (living on less than $2 per day). 1.3 billion people live in 'absolute' or 'extreme poverty' (living on less than $1 per day).

800 million people lack access to basic healthcare. 17 million people, including 11 million children, die every year from easily preventable diseases and malnutrition.

800 million people are hungry or malnourished. Nearly 160 million children are malnourished worldwide. 11 million people die every year from hunger and malnutrition.

2.4 billion people lack access to proper sanitation. 1.1 billion do not have safe drinking water. By 2025, at least 3.5 billion people or nearly 2/3rd's of the world's population will face water scarcity. More than 2.2 million people, mostly children, die each year from water related diseases.

275 million children never attend or complete primary school education. 870 million of the world's adults are illiterate.

3 million people die every year from HIV/AIDS. Approximately 25 million people have died from AIDS in the last 20 years. 70 million will die from AIDS by 2020. 40 million people are currently infected with HIV/AIDS, who will die within 10 years. 13 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began, and the number is expected to double to 26 million by 2010.

Over 100 million people live in slums. An estimated 25 to 50 percent of urban inhabitants in poor, developing countries live in impoverished slums and squatter settlements.

The richest 1% of the world's people earned as much income as the bottom 57% (2.7 billion people). The top 5% of the world's people earn more income than the bottom 80%. The top 10% of the world's people earn as much income as the bottom 90%. The richest 16% of the world's population receives 84% of the world's annual income.

The wealth of the world's 7.1 million millionaires ($27 trillion) equals the total combined annual income of the entire planet.   The combined wealth of the world's richest 300 individuals is equal to the total annual income of 45% of the world's population.  The world's 3 wealthiest families have a combined wealth equal to the annual income of 600 million of the world's people.  The wealthiest one-fifth of the world's population receive an average income that is 75 times greater than the poorest one-fifth.

Poor countries (which contain 4/5th's of the world's people) pay the rich countries an estimated nine times more in debt repayments than they receive in aid. Africa alone spends four times more on repaying its debts than it spends on health care. In 1997 the foreign debts of poor countries were more than $2 trillion and growing. The result is a debt of $400 for every person in the developing world - where average annual income in the very poorest countries is less than a dollar a day.

environment & sustainability

Half of the forests that originally covered 46% of the Earth's land surface are gone. Only one-fifth of the Earth's original forests remain pristine and undisturbed.

Between 10 and 20 percent of all species will be driven to extinction in the next 20 to 50 years. Based on current trends, an estimated 34,000 plant and 5,200 animal species - including one in eight of the world's bird species - face extinction. Almost a quarter of the world's mammal species will face extinction within 30 years. Up to 47% of the world's plant species are at risk of extinction.

60% of the world's coral reefs, which contain up to one-fourth of all marine species, could be lost in the next 20-40 years

Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles and marine mammals are entangled and drowned by irresponsible fishing practices every year.

More than 20 percent of the world's known 10,000 freshwater fish species have become extinct, been threatened, or endangered in recent decades. Sixty percent of the world's important fish stocks are threatened from overfishing.

Desertification and land degradation threaten nearly one-quarter of the land surface of the globe. Over 250 million people are directly affected by desertification, and one billion people are at risk.

Global warming is expected to increase the Earth's temperature by 3C (5.4F) in the next 100 years, resulting in multiple adverse effects on the environment and human society, including widespread species loss, ecosystem damage, flooding of populated human settlements, and increased natural disasters.

An estimated 40-80 million people have been forcibly evicted and displaced from their lands to make way for the construction of large dams, resulting in economic and social devastation for these people.